RIYADH: Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, director general of the King Faisal Foundation (KFF), announced on Monday night winners of the 2012 King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) at a high-profile event held in Riyadh.
A distinguished gathering, including princes, high-ranking Saudi officials, diplomats and other prominent personalities were present on the occasion.
The award for Service to Islam was presented to leading Saudi philanthropist Sheikh Sulaiman Al Rajhi, founder of Al Rajhi Bank in recognition of his outstanding achievements, including an endowment of more than half of his personal wealth for humanitarian purposes.
The Prize for Islamic Studies was won by Saudi professor Adnaan Mohammed Al-Wazzan, a former president of Umm Al-Qura University, in recognition of his highly authoritative Arabic encyclopedia of human rights in Islam and its attributes in Saudi Arabia.
In the Arabic Language and Literature category (Computer Processing of the Arabic Language: Individual and Institutional Endeavors), the prize was shared jointly by professor Ali Hilmi Ahmed Mousa of Ain Shams University (Cairo) and Nabil Ali Mohamed, a corporate consultant at Advanced Arabic Systems, Cairo. Both were from Egypt.
The Prize for Medicine (Minimal Invasive Fetal Management) was awarded jointly to US professors Richard L. Berkowitz and James Bruce Bussel, while in the Science category (Biology), the recipient was Professor Alexander Varshavsky, also from the US.
Each of the five prizes consists of a certificate hand written in Diwani calligraphy summarizing the laureate's work; a commemorative 24 carat 200-gram gold medal uniquely cast for each prize; and a cash endowment of SR750,000 ($200,000). Co-winners in any category share the monetary grant. The prizes will be awarded during a ceremony to be held in Riyadh under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
According to KFIP Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Othaimeen, Al Rajhi was chosen for the Service to Islam award in recognition of his outstanding work to serve Islam, including his role in establishing the world’s largest and most venerable Islamic banking institution operating in accordance with Shariah teachings and his regular contribution toward humanitarian efforts to fight poverty. He was also recognized for providing national and international humanitarian societies with material support and training.
His effort to encourage Qur’an memorization groups and providing them with financial support and prizes, in addition to printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the Holy Qur’an and distributing them free of charge worldwide, particularly in Africa, were among his other major contributions in the service of Islam.
Al Rajhi also established several non-profit colleges as a nucleus for a university soon to be announced. There are currently three health sciences colleges as well as other academic institutions for developing Arabic and Islamic studies curricula and also for teaching Arabic language to non-Arabs.
Building large mosques with separate halls for women worshippers and facilities for religious education, such as the Al Rajhi Mosque in Riyadh and another in Hail, investing in major projects aimed at providing food security and serving the cause of industry, construction and other sectors were among his other major contributions to socio-economic development. He also promoted the development of Muslim communities through investment and strengthening of commercial relations with the Islamic world. Al Rajhi encouraged Muslim youth through his talks and personal contacts to engage in private business
Addressing the ceremony, Prince Khaled said that in the presentation of KFIP awards merit and excellence alone are the criteria for selection. “This annual scientific, cultural and civilized gathering carries the name of that great man, the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. He was followed by a reformist, developer and a man of initiatives within the Kingdom and abroad, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif at this momentous event. We are honored to host intellectual pioneers of culture and science from around the world.”
Prince Khaled added that he was privileged to welcome to this event scholars and scientists. “As you are aware, the KFIP is seeking to serve humanity wherever they may be in this world and this award is one of the pioneering efforts in recognizing knowledge and encouraging scholars,” the prince said.
Abdurahman Al Rajhi, a businessman and a member of the Al Rajhi family, told Arab News Sheikh Sulaiman was known for his humanitarian services as well as business success. “He deserved the prize as he had served his people, his country and his family,” he said, adding that he has an outstanding track record here and in the Islamic world and has contributed substantially to Saudi economic growth through involvements in many business enterprises in the Kingdom.